>> the rise fall and redemption of an era of american patriots in the cia. >> up next, matt wasniewski, destroyed of the house of representatives, presents a history of africa and americans who served in congress. he is joined by former congressman ron dellums, founding of the congressional black caucus. at the rayburn house office building here in washington,on. this is about two hours. m
>> good morning. goodorning good, morning, everyone. i wanted to welcome you to this black history month program.. it is black americans in i congress briefings and discussion and i think this is i an outstanding way to start the morning, so we will begin. i am the project director of the congressional black caucus foundation. a voice african-american voicesn in congress is a long-standing project of the cbcf that chronicles legislative af accomplishments, ofongress african-americans in congress, and the impact of shaken democracy in america. the website, is an educational resource which helps cultivate discourse and scholarship on african-american leadership andd representative government ent and promote civic engagement among youth. i'm honored to be the moderator for today's event.
today we will hear from the house a story in, matt wasniewski, and the editor of the book black americans in congress, another fantastic resources. later we will hear from former congressman ron dellums you will be introduced hopefully by barbara -- presented a barbara lee. at this time please welcome the sponsor of our briefing, congresswoman frederika wilson who represents florida's 17th congressional district. a lifelong educator, covers woman wilson before coming to congress served as a principal, school board member, florida state house representative, florida state senator. this is her freshman term in congress. congresswoman. >> thank you so much. and thank you for being here with us today. and thank you to all of you for coming out to share this with us
. history is so important to, and this is the beginning of black history month. in florida i served as the coordinator for african american history in the entire state and was responsible for placing in the text books of history black history. in fact, congresswoman carrie leaked, congresswoman brown, and congressman al c. hastings are in the fourth great textbooks of florida when we study the state as being elected, so i am very happy to say also i serve as the chairman of black history for the '95 miami-dade public county schools. i have a whole segment of the community that is interested in making sure that everyone learns african-american history as they come to the public schools so
that we meet quarterly to my give suggestions to the african-american history test course and make sure that goal is met. so, today we continue that legacy, and i want to think all of the in turns, in my office for all that they have done, especially in pulling this together, thanking c-span for coming up to cover as today. as we move along we expect more people to come that have just called votes. i'm going to vote. i only have two votes. i will be back to enjoy this one the fourth session. our great out areas to this morning. let's give him a hand. this is seen as a door we're so pleased, this is just a great day in washington.
>> thank you very much. now please welcome matt wasniewski. >> thank you for arranging the seven senators to discuss black history month in a particular the history of african americans in congress. so many changes have occurred in the story line in the recent past by historic standards that it really has been an amazing amount of change. seoul with the lifetimes of those of us in this room there has been tremendous change in the story. i like to put to statistics to you to point this out. the first is that there have been 126 african-americans who
have served as our institution, the house of representatives. there have been six other individuals who have served in that other body on the north side of the building, the senate no african-american individual has ever served in both chambers so if you add them up as 132 people. as a portion of congress that accounts for about 1% of all the people who ever served in the house and senate. now, to demonstrate how this changes occurred quickly in recent years, consider this, as african americans, as many african-americans have been elected to congress since 1990 as were elected in the entire time frame between 1870 in 1990. from 1870 the first african-americans, a senator
from mississippi, south carolina , a member in the house. that is a tremendous amount of change command would i would like to do today is to help you better understand some of the earlier context of the story. certainly an authority on what has happened in the modern era, so i would like to do is prepare you for his talk by talk about some of the pioneers, some of the early representatives and senators and came along and made the changes that have happened in a lifetime possible. to do that i want to refer to of publication which republished in 2008, black americans in congress. we are going to use our website behind me to illustrate that. from our office we will drive the bus on that and highlights of the individuals i will be mentioning. this book was published in 2008. the website features some things not available in the book. lesson plans for teachers, a gallery of art and artifacts that are not in the book, and it
is also updated regularly, would recommend it to anyone who would like to learn more of the history. i will just be skimming the surface. b. aic-house stock of. we break african-american history and capitol hill and so for long been narrations, and media to provide context so that people can understand the elections unless these numbers came to congress and also the environment in which they legislated in both the house and senate. so move to the first generation of african-americans to serve during the reconstruction after the civil war up until 188733 construction, of course, as you know about unfamiliar with was unarmed and effort to reform the seceded southern government, the former confederate states, and integrate this out back into the union. historians typically did this between 1863 kaj 1865, and 1877,
the formal end of reconstruction. during most of reconstruction in both the house and the senate a very influential group of individuals known as radical republicans really ran the legislative agenda in both chambers. radicals tended to be for abolitionists who wanted to impose a much harsher version of reconstruction on the southern states than did president again or johnson. radical leaders such as how thaddeus stevens of pennsylvania who was surely the leader of the house chairman of the ways and means committee in the appropriations committee and then charles sumner of massachusetts, the great radical leader in the senate wanted this program the 30 the mind of flesh
and blood he occupied a senate seat that had been held by a man named albert brown who left the chamber in 1861 when the state seceded it is a very powerful, symbolic appointment. a former slave holder and he was i hire -- hiram level taking his seat as a dictator earlier. as henderson rose son of massachusetts as quarter rose to the front of the chamber to take is up on february 201570 the
atlanta constitution had a reporter in the galleries who wrote the, the crowded galleries rose almost on mass, and these particular neck was stretched to its utmost to give you of curious crowds colored and white rushed into the senate chamber and gazed at the senator, sunken vessel letting him. very respectable looking to ma well-dressed company of colored men and women in came up, took preble's captive and bore him off in glee in triumph. well, it was short-lived because after his short appointment expired the following year the leading white republican in the state of former confederate general james of corn was appointed to the bull fixture and took his seat in the senate.
they have a lot in common. they all came from reconstructed republican governments in the south, osborn in the south. eight of them had been born into slavery. those who had not been born in slavery, the majority of them were born into relatively large free mixed-race communities in urban areas in the south such as charleston, south carolina. the professional backgrounds were divorced, teachers, clergy, hotel managers, merchants, and one profession, number of them shared in common. it is a time-honored 19th century vehicle for advancing ones political career. a lot of them came from journalism backgrounds with startup republican newspapers in the south. there was a lot to unite this group, and with their stores a
personal triumph and individual moments of heroism they offered a powerful collective symbol of the victory of african-american citizenship and voting rights in those years after the civil war, but it is important to remember that during this time is african-american members never really achieved a level of power that was wielded by their white colleagues in both the house and the senate. in a sense they really serve at the margins of institutional power. they were, in a sense, tolerated but not embraced on capitol hill. a couple of things to point that out. none of these figures really held influential committee positions, no power committees, appropriations, ways and means. they did not surf as leaders, nor did they serve and sufficiently large numbers to really drive a legislative agenda. in fact, the largest group of african-americans to serve the
19th century in when congress was a, seven representatives and senators / bruce from mississippi, and that was in the 44th congress, 18751877. all republicans, and they at, at that point and were serving in a congress that was and the democrat-controlled. lacking in a qualitative institutional power, these african americans were, for the most part on the floor relegated to passive roles to support legislation that was being introduced and shaped by there colleagues. they provided firsthand accounts of so rights abuses against there constituents in the south and often against themselves after a lot of press attention. parlay the most snow with the debates in which these african-americans but dissipated related to the civil-rights act of 1875. now, the civil rights activities of kayfive was a very forward working piece of legislation, very progressive and have been introduced by charles sumner in the senate.
had it been enacted in its entirety would have done everything that the 1964 civil rights act did in terms of outline racial discrimination in public transportation, schools, injuries, and public accommodations. i want to introduce one fellow who was involved in the debate. his name was robert elliott from south carolina. he is truly one of the more interesting people who we profiled. he was much general and his colleagues. he had a photographic memory, and he was a great orator. when he came to the house for the national press and the galleries took no. he is also a character because essentially, as we found out, invented much of his early personal history. perot would to make an submersible for political office, but i'll let you read the profile. he offered in early 1870 for a very eloquent rebel to the former confederate
vice-president, alexander stephens of georgia who had been elected to the house and to came on to the house floor and opposition to speak in opposition to this civil rights bill. i want to read you a quote that he gave on the floor. i regret that the dark hue of my skin may lend color to the imputation that i am controlled by motives personal to myself and my advocacy of this great measure of national justice. the motive that impels me is restricted to know such boundary, but is as broad as our constitution, and i advocate it because it is right. well, the chicago tribune reported watching mr. elliott give this great speech and then watching the elderly alexander stephens deliver a very dry speech from his wheelchair in the well of the house. they reported that eliot had a harmony of delivery that resonated with the entire chamber. mr. elliott has demonstrated a real force of a new order of
things. well, he left the 43rd congress for greater political opportunity and became speaker of the south carolina state legislature, state house of representatives. like so many african-americans in this era elliott would very soon struggle later in life with the opportunity to participate in politics at this level or even eat out and earning, and he died in obscurity in 1884 after jim crow laws and segregation and began in the south and he died of complications of malaria and with little public notice. i want to move to the second generation of a profile of booked. this generation of african-americans, this is a story there really is one. we data between 87 and 1929, and it is one of really contraction
and declined and exclusion as african-americans are pushed out of the political process in the south. and it is unique from the narrative of women and hispanic americans and some of the other groups who we steady to newly admitted to the political process because once women or hispanic americans on the political seat on capitol hill they were a presence, but african-americans for many years are completely excluded from participating in capitol hill. there were only five black members to serve from 1887 to 1901, and beginning after 1901 there was a nearly three decades gaps in african-american service in the house and senate. following reconstruction this is a well-known part of the narrative, as part of the compromise of 1877 which put rutherford hayes in the warehouse, a deal was struck that ended formal reconstruction in the south and pulled northern troops out of the south.
the political rights of all free blacks with casualties of this deal as jim-crow and the underpinnings of a system of segregation came into place in the 80's and 90's, southern freedman were ruthlessly and systematically excluded from the political process. whole taxes, grandfather clauses, literacy tests, all but primaries and so one. and beyond these devices were repeated efforts to chauncey elections of african-americans who were elected from seven districts, at least eight african american members in the 19th century had their alexis john's. in fact, the very first african-american who never spoke on the house floor while it was in session was a man by the name of john willis menard from louisiana, and in 1868 in a special election he had been elected with 64 percent of the vote to a district that
encompasses greater new orleans, but the election was contested by his opponent, and when it came before the house elections committee for the elections committee decided said a seat mater of his element, so could have become the first african-american in congress by a full year and lost that and did not take a seat. african-american representatives and the late 1880's and 90's, the few of them that were let for relegated to other shaped districts which were either as political scientists say, cracked -- crafted to delete and disperse black votes and to other districts or conversely packed to contain most african-american votes in one district to open up more districts for white candid it's on the state delegations. and where law and legal challenges failed there was outright gimmickry fraud and violence that marred a lot of these elections in which these
individuals were involved. going back to the district was an adventure for these gentlemen to put it mildly. and i want to i'll let one man who served in one of those of the six districts which was a salamander shaped district that wound its way along the eastern coast of north carolina. it was known as the black second district and was represented by a string of african-american men. this man was named george white, and he was born into slavery in 1852. he kept his teeth in local politics in the reconstruction era, practiced law, in 1894 he made a bid to be elected to congress and challenged his brother-in-law, the district's former black congressman. this was during an amazing convention. weight lost, but he spent too fast but devote enough. you can imagine what the family gatherings must of been like
after that, but he persisted and won election in 1896 to the first of two terms, and he was the only african-american in congress during that time from 1897-1901 when he stood for reelection in 1908 there was a very violent race riot in warming to north carolina on the coast in his district. eleven african-american men were killed, 25 wounded. in congress despite serving under republican majority whites had his legislative initiatives constantly rebuffed. one of the big bills and to try to bring to the floor was an anti lynching bill. and just weeks before he announced his retirement from the house president william mckinley refused to pledge aid for that anti lynching legislation. well, in frustration white came to the house floor and delivered his speech in which he said,
this, mr. chairman, is, perhaps among the negroes temporary farewell to the american congress. let me say, phoenix-like he will rise up and come again some day. during that 20 a year absence of african americans from congress civil rights legislation for african americans about the south and the north was all but ignored. washington was a segregated city. the federal government was segregated by custom, if not statute. there were a few members of congress who carry the mantle of racial justice confronting their colleagues and issues that were important to black americans. the naacp, which was founded in 1909 and its executive secretary worked closely with a few members in the house to secure passage of an anti lynching bill in the early 1920's, but that bill died in senate. this gentleman behind me was one
of the advocates and one of -- for african-americans. george white from north carolina had introduced legislation a result that would have punished southern states for disenfranchising blacks, and is derived from the 14th amendment. >> proposed legislation that required congress to penalize states that sought to disqualify eligible voters by subtracting the number of people who were disenfranchised from the totals there were used to determine how many seats each state would have for its delegation. and this ever became known as reduction, and because started up after each census, as you might expect. this john and behind me from massachusetts advocated a reduction in the 1920's. he was truly one of the most colorful characters in the house, an avid bit -- big game hunter who would write his office walls with trophies that he often named after political opponents.
he became known as the conscience of the house. and during this protracted fight he repeatedly brought the issue of african-american voting rights and protection to the house floor and challenged the house leaders to address it. i'm going to move on to the third part of our boat, and that begins in 1929 as african-americans regain a place on capitol hill. this is in the form of oscar de priest who is elected from the chicago district. this marks the beginning of a third long wave from a generation of black americans in congress up until 1970. individuals elected or nearly the mirror opposites of their 19th century predecessors. there were all northerners, there were elected from black majority urban districts, and with the exception of
massachusetts these men are all democrats. there was a shift in party loyalty that noted self to some larger forces that are operating beyond capitol hill. one of them in the late 19th century was the lowly life movement in south in which southern republicans began to freeze and african-americans from the political process from local politics and nominating conventions. another even larger force at play here is the great migration of tens of thousands of african-americans beginning in the early part of the 20th century and lasting for a number of decades. these have folks are coming from rural poverty in the south and looking for northern industrial jobs and the opportunity to participate more fully in
politics. and also, by promising african-americans full participation in the political process in the 1930's, the new deal coalition also helped reactivates black political participation and brought greater numbers of african-americans into the democratic party over a number of decades. but looking at these individuals from institutional perspective african-americans who serve in this era we describe as embarking on a long apprenticeship in both the house and senate. they obtained more desirable committee assignments. they represented a relatively safe majority black districts, won reelection and occurred the kind of seniority in need to advance themselves slowly into the leader. and while they shared an identical rules about advancing the civil rights of there constituents they often disagree over tactics and legislative
styles. one such legislative style was that of william dawson of illinois who was elected to the house in 1942. dawson was one of these members who preferred to work behind the scenes, did not make a lot of floor speeches, but he eventually became the first african-american to chair a full congressional committee. the other style which we will highlight here is this fellow who everyone no doubt knows, the very charismatic preacher, adam clayton powell who served from 1945, 1971, an unapologetic civil rights activist, he was known as mr. civil-rights, and command facts, we tell the chapter covering this time keeping the faith after his of put -- of use quotation. keep the faith committee during spirited gently and what to give the children. he won election to a new
district that encompasses thailand. the search for a total of 12 conferences. eventually in the early 1960's he rested to the education and labor committee and helped oversee the enactment of some major portions of the great society as efficient. when he first came to congress the speaker sam rayburn of texas anticipating bells confrontational style interest and to play the part of a good freshman member, to be seen but not heard. he called them into his office and told them, adam, listen to what your colleagues have to say come and drink it all in and get reelected a few more times and then start moving, but, for god's sake, don't throw those bombs. in reply the missing a beat, mr. speaker, i have a ball and both hands, and a gun to throw them right away. raborn burst into laughter and paul recalls this was the beginning of a good between the two men. most famously throughout his career, paul pushed something
done an anti-discrimination rider became known as the parliament and he attacked this on to as many pieces of legislation is a kid. it was eventually included in the 1964 civil rights act, and it and to permit the use of federal funds by institutions of for businesses that practice discrimination. paul also routinely confronted segregationist's on capitol hill, and i want to give you one example. a very senior member from the mississippi delegation who called paul's election to the house in disgrace and publicize his intention to avoid sitting next to an african american man on the house floor. well, if you know anything about adam clayton powell, this only punted into act decisively. he responded by sitting as close to this southern politician on the house floor as possible and at one point he followed this very senior chairman and around the democratic side of the
chamber and made him move a half-dozen times in one day. he later remarked he didn't know whether to baptize the man or drown him. this error really marked a time a challenging institutional racism, not just for paul, but four other representatives. in this regard i want to briefly highlight oscar de priest who was elected in 1929. on opening day in 1929 speaker nicholas longworth of ohio changed the longtime practice of swearing in members on the house floor by state delegation which would, and of political order, come into the well of the house and take the oath of office. members from the illinois delegation, which priest was a part of, including congressman ruth ann mccormick, had come and told him they feared that southerners who were sworn in might object to is seating.
and so what he opted for is what persists to this date in our practice of dumping day which is to spur and the whole on mass. when he the staff were discriminated against in the then segregated house restaurant he came to the house floor and give this "as part of a speech, if we allow segregation and denial of constitutional rights of the dome of the capitol where in god's name will we get them. he shamed thousand degree in special investigatory committee, but the majority of its members proceeded to the number of racial conservatives and is living right across the surface.
a primary sample of the session in the 1960's was the house rules committee which, as you know, stretches bills and pulses them on to the floor for consideration. it was chaired by an art segregationist, judge harris but the viejo, and this hugely influential panel routine the watered-down a long parade of civil rights bills that came down before it. oftentimes smith with a shudder committee operations, just close the committee down and go back to his farm, his horse farm in northern virginia. at one point he sees itself to inspect a burned down barn on his property to which neil allen of illinois who was then the ranking republican member on the committee i think came up with one of the greatest sound bites in congressional history. he told the press, to the judge was opposed to the civil rights bill, but it didn't think he commit arson to be there.
eventually in 1961 speaker sam rayburn challenge smith in a bruising fight that expanded the of the committee to break the hold of those who were blocking reform legislation, and it made possible what would occur later in the 1960's with the civil rights act in the voting rights act. and as so often happens in american history, change the political level, often driven by social movements that are happening out there far away from capitol hill. with the civil rights act. the voting rights act and 65. in many respects this movement that was occurring and the country over shattered was going on in washington. to create the conditions that affected change on capitol hill in the post 1970 tampering and within a decade the number of
african-americans in congress doubled, and as their numbers increased, the momentum for organizing overtime strengthened very briefly the with like to talk about the final time frame here as opposed 1970 era backs in the 1960's in the voting rights act and its extension in 1970 and 75 in the early 80's, court-ordered redistricting opens new avenues of political participation for millions of african-americans. consequently during this time many more african-americans were elected to state and local political office and then congress. in fact, 97 of those 1302 individuals are mentioned at the start of the talk or elected after 1970.
many of these members are elected from southern states for the first time in seven or eight decades. in 1973 barbara jordan of texas and indiana and georgia became the first african-americans elected from the south since the 19th century. the growing ranks of african-american members in congress marked the time for formal organization and coordination of black efforts and what occurred then in early 1971 was the 13 african american members of congress led by charles digs a machine created the congressional black caucus. we have an image of the early caucus on the far right's. the mandate was to address "and "permanent interest that were born to black americans to enhance african-americans within the institution of the house and the senate to get them better committee assignments.
the cdc also forced a legislative agenda and a cohesive voting block. they can rely on the caucus. among that notable early achievements were passage of the humphrey-hawkins act in 1978 to promote full employment and a balanced budget. 1983 passage of the federal holiday commemorating martin luther king jr., and in 1986 for the very first time passing legislation that imposed sanctions on south africa for its practice of apartheid. these were all victories. within congress they used their influence as a growing unit within the democratic caucus to oppose party leaders to appoint african americans to better committees and more to leave
positions, and this generation of african-americans held positions on a full cross-section of committees for the first time, including some of the most coveted committees, appropriations, ways and means, shirley chisholm went on to rules comanche was the first african-american on rules. other influential panel such as judiciary and armed services. an interesting armed services story without getting out to that committee, which i let him tell. eventually chaired that committee, and it made him one of 16 african americans who served -- chaired a congressional committee in the post 1971 time. to give you a little perspective between 1870 in 1971 there were just three african-americans who chaired panels. and for the first time black members of congress rose interparty ship, party leader rolls rank during this era, bill gray as democratic majority whip
in the 80's, j.c. watts of oklahoma became republican conference chairman and the late 90's, and most recently james clayborn of south carolina who served as democratic whip. as well, part of this story is that there were more african-american woman elected to congress. surely of new york was the first elected in 1968 from a district that encompassed brooklyn, major the first african american congress. thirty other women followed her since 1969. particularly in the post-1992 and from women have accounted for a major part of the story. women account for about 40 percent of all the african americans to have been elected after 1990. so this is a rich multifaceted history, one we are still learning about, particularly at the staff level during reconstruction. i have some stories, but i will say this for later. and i have enjoyed the chance to share some of this with you and i believe we have time for questions to abcaeight.
>> thank you. also at this time of want to take a moment to recognize someone who has just entered the room. congressman hank johnson. if he would say a few words. >> ladies and gentlemen, good morning. it is good to be here with one of the lions. it is good to be here this morning with one of the alliance of congressional history, ron dellums, a man who always said what he meant to mom and what he said, and stood by his
principles and is still standing . it goes to show you that you can have some principles, and you can be successful. you may not be as rich as some of the others, but that is only in the pocketbook. in the line in spirit you can feel real good about the work that you did and the legacy they left, and so this is the legacy that ron dellums has left for us to continue. i can tell you that the work that you were involved in as an african-american hearing congress making a difference is ongoing. there are barriers that remain to the busted up and demolished.
lyle that we reach that not to give angry or let's say said about having to fight because fighting makes you stronger. so we will just go ahead and continue to fight, but be responsible in doing so and hopefully our efforts can make you proud, congressman. >> with that -- and that think the speaker and the african american voices in congress for bringing
and the pdf version of the congressional record and the globe and its predecessors going all the way back, we are able to do searches we previously couldn't. and the story of african-american pioneers at the staff level on capitol hill during reconstruction has come into focus. these are individuals who aren't really covered and the staff are not covered in the public
record, and so have been able to search these databases and uncover some very interesting individuals, one of whom who is highlighted in the hand out,intd william smith, appointed in 1881.1, he had originally been appointed to the house staff in 1864, and charles sumner umner, on the sene side was a sponsor. he worked for wait while being in the house library. and weight loss reed was later the editor for the new york tribune and vice presidents attended it. well, mr. smith rose through the ranks and was appointed what was then a very prominent and prestigious position, the house agrarian and served until the early 1890's. one of the few african-american staff that we know about from that time frame. one of the others who was discovered very recently his command back to my man -- a young man, perhaps even a teenager by the name of alfred q. powell who we have discovered
recently was the first african-american page appointed to the house in 1871. now, previously a story line had been that the first black page was appointed in 1965 on the 100th anniversary of abraham lincoln's assassination, appointed by congressman paul findlay from the springfield illinois district. and we did an oral history with this gentleman. a wonderful story, you remember being in the house floor as the 1965 voting rights act was being debated. a wonderful memory, but it turns out that during reconstruction there was an african american page appointed to the house from the richmond area. we learn a little bit more every day. the senate actually had appointed a page in the reconstruction era, someone who was championed by charles sumner
, the great radical republican senator from massachusetts. that was two years earlier in 1869, so that is a story we are still learning. as refined the stars who will put them on our web page, and it's exciting. multilayer it, and we're always learning something new. [applause] >> thank you so much. and now at this time would like to introduce congressman barber lee, the u.s. representative from california congressional district serving since 1998. she is the first woman to represent the district. a former chair of the congressional black caucus and a former co-chair of the congressional caucus. an interesting fact began her political career as an intern in the office of her predecessor. eventually she became his chief of staff.
reforming elected to congress to serve the california state assembly and in this state senate. >> thank you very much, and good morning. let me first thank the house historian's office for his presentation today. also, a drina and of course to what congresswoman frederica wilson for your vision and for your tenacity and for organizing this very important form and for bringing my former boss to capitol hill for all of you, if you don't know him, to meet an agreed, but to listen and learn about. this man and, yes, i served as an intern when i was in college,
watergate summer of 1973. you can imagine what an amazing summer that was for me. i came back in 75 and continue to work for ron until 1986. and i tell you, everything i learned about politics, progressive politics, and political acumen, the practical nature of progressive politics and how to keep one's principles and bottom lines within the context of this institution i learned from this great human being. struggling with the issues, the issues we're dealing with. how important if any of your staff and in terms of how
important you are because of waste as what you think. quite interesting for me. why would he want to know what i thought and what i believe then. this unbelievable great statesman asking me. later, i came to realize that he always wanted new ideas, fresh ideas, creativity so that he could make the best possible decision to not only for his constituents, but for the country and for the world, and it took pushing the envelope a little bit. it took knowing what young people and old people, the rainbow coalition of people, and run as the father of the rainbow coalition coming from berkeley, california in the late 60's. together a coalition to be elected to the city council and then on to congress, but he always wanted the best thinking of all of us into his decisions.
he ultimately quite naturally made the decision, but let me tell you to my learned very quickly why he was asking for our input. i think that really -- and the other thing error member, i don't know what to do, how we do this, especially as it relates to constituents his work and helping people. he said, the only thing you need to ask yourself is is this the right thing to do. that was the yardstick. is this the right thing? don't think about the politics, don't think about, you know, an election, don't think about who wins and loses, just ask yourself, is it the right thing to do. you don't even have to come talk to me. it is the right thing to do, just do it. and of course he worked with congresswoman shirley chisholm and barbara jordan and charlotte digs. i was blessed and privileged and fortunate to have had a chance to meet them and to see them work and to see how they
interacted and healthy lead in terms of his input into these other great founders of the congressional black caucus and using his expertise and his perspective to bring people together. it was just quite an amazing army, but because he is quite an amazing and billion man. ron move forward in this institution coming from congress has a ba, anti-4 candid it. i know he will tell you about how he got to the armed services committee. but i never saw him waver as he moved up the ranks in the armed services committee. he alternately became chairman of the armed services committee in the mid-90s, but could you imagine sharing the armed services committee coming from berkeley, setting a standard where he said, you know, we have got to have a rational same
defense policy which means looking at where we can cut the military budget so that we can invest in our domestic priority. well, now that argument and debate finally is beginning on democrats and republicans and the white house in this current context. run always was a visionary and a man way ahead of his time, but jen, i always think about every time i make a decision, some of the comments and moments because they are embedded in my psyche. he would always say, look, you just stand on the corner, and if you do the right thing used in the corner of the rest of the world is hard to walk right up to. there you will be. everybody will be with you. that is so, so true. did the right thing, stand by your principles, do what you know is best for your constituents and your country and the world's sooner or later everybody will see that. there will be their right there
with you. and so i have to adjust thank him for his on hiv and aids. serve on the president's advisory committee on hiv and aids under the clinton and bush administration. he really lead charity on capitol hill in terms of establishing a framework for what is known now as the global fund to fight aids, tuberculosis , malaria. ron always staked out the turf way ahead of everyone else. and so it is just really an honor to be able to bring him forward now. he served as oakland's 45th mayor and third african-american mayor of the city of oakland in 2006. and so i would like for you to give him a round of applause because as i make this one final comment, i could go on and on and on, but he introduced the
south africa sanctions bill, 12 or 13 times. i mean, he kept three introducing that bill primary introducing that bill. he knew one day the united states had to get on the right side of history in terms of sanctions against apartheid regime in south africa, and i'll never forget he finally did. congress overrode the veto. that bomb but the united states and the right set of history and helped the people of south africa take down the apartheid regime. thank you, again, so much for that. welcome. chairman and former mayor, marine officer, city councilman, and my friend. [applause] >> thank you. good morning to all of you.
introduce one of my former colleagues, take the stand. >> the committee. >> the ranking member of the house armed services committee. i never imagined back in 1997 that i would one day be back in the position that you set a very high standard with your honesty, your intelligence, your thoughtful approach to all of those issues. as you know, the armed services committee can have a little bit of a bias. it's nice to has some folks with a balanced perspective on what role are military plays in protecting our society and values. nobody on that committee has ever done a better job of that than you. so i am honored to be able to be here today to be able to hear you speak and thank you for your service, not just of the
congress but the country. >> thank you very much. i deeply appreciate that. >> thank you. [applause] >> let me thank all of you who were instrumental in arranging for this opportunity, and i'm very pleased and privilege to be here. i want to thank my good friend for the very generous and kind and tumbling into the actions. barnet's a call her friend to my privilege to call her my representative. in the middle of my 14th term to offer personal reasons, it was time for me to leave. i talk with my hands. so when i get ready to leave people said, well, who would you
like to see represent this district in your departure? i was like, well, in 1970 is district elected a man who was of the men's. life is a progression. i think that progression should be you elect a woman. that district did that, and i'm honored that they said the country are barely. [applause] as of going to tell a few stories. you need to know, i never want to be in politics. i wanted to be the black sigmund freud of america. i have a master's degree from uc-berkeley in psychiatric social work. in the first member of my family born of the south. the first member of my family to get a college. and i had no idea that i would never get a master's degree. i promised my mother that i
would not end up in san quentin, so when i got a master's degree everything was really did. yeah, just a backup for a minute, join the marine corps because everything was going really well. i was supposed to get a scholarship to uc-berkeley when i graduated from high school and a certain point. hormones kayten. i went a little crazy as teenagers tend to do. seven order to try to keep a promise to my mother that i would actually go to school i join the marine corps. basic training you have to take a battery of exams. i took all these exams and i had a black drill instructor, staff sergeant allen. he called me in his office one day in the said, there two men who were here to interview,
officers can this cool. this was 1954. i had never seen a black officer i read about them, but never seen one. .. cert, private dellums reporting. at ease. one the g loong at one of the guys looking at apiep ,atce of paper.er you lo tok at me, look at the paper, looked at me, gave it tog the other guy. he looked at the paper, looked at me.
what race are you, lad? 1954. stood at attention, sir. that is what i thought, lad. summer rarely dismiss. in a split-second those hopes and dreams and aspirations that were racing through my mind just went the way. i took a prompt step back and a smart be smart about-face i shagged out. i went back to my outfit and what was this all about? eventually, staff sergeant allen carper when i told them what happened he checked it out and called me back and said, guess what? here is the problem. when you first go into the service and serving in the marine corps the first day they cut your hair bald so you stand in these endless lines. some clerk was typing a form,
ronald d. dellums 150-5605. just saw a light-skinned. did not see hair. caucasian. so those two guys came to interview ronald d. dellums and everything else at the same except they came to interview a young white kid that i was a black guy. so it didn't happen. but it was wonderful to go back to that military base some years later as the chairman of the house armed services committee. [applause] 1967 i'm on my way to brandeis university. and for me, it was an incredible thing. brandeis university from 1015 wood street in west oakland and i'm going across country to an ivy league school to work on a
ph.d. and i told the brothers and sisters in the movement, i will be back at i'm going to train my mind. i want to be the guy in the backroom when the people said, what is the program? i wanted to be the guy writing the program. had no idea of ever being out front. they arranged for me to have $33,000 worth of scholarships at brandeis university. i will be back in the movement but i i will be well-trained. i get a call one night in january 1967. they wanted me to go to a meeting bob knight where black leaders in berkeley, california were deciding on who would be the quote black energy candidate for the berkeley city council. they had one black person not be berkeley city council and everybody was saying one african-american tantamount to tokenism and we need to move beyond one. my friends called me up and said your name has been kicked around
as a possible candidate. hey fellas i'm not interested. i'm going to brandeis university to work on a ph.d.. i have got $33,000 worth of scholarships backing me. put your coat on, you are going to the meeting so they drug me to the meeting. to make a long story short 2:30 in the morning and i didn't tell anybody about school. i just that i'm not interested in politics. i have very strong views about things. i'm not ready for politics and politics are not ready for me. we were the activists of the 60s and called herself the young mile markers. do you remember those days? none of you are that old. [laughter] so they brought out a black ward that were six other fellows who really wanted to be the candidate soviet seven names on the black ward and one of whom
was ronald dellums so they said take somebody, somebody take ron's name off because they're not interested. the women stood up and said wait a minute, hold it, before you take his name off let me ask the young man a question. and 67 i was a young man. i heard what you said, but if the community asked you to run, would you run? run on your own terms? i thought about that question. that changed my life. and i stood up and i was very polite and i said, maam that is the only way anybody ought to be in politics, on their own terms. and she said well, keep the young man's name on the list because he is going to get one vote and i'm standing there going, please don't do this to
me. i want to go to brandeis university. i'm not interested in politics, don't trust politicians. i grew up in berkeley in the 60s. one of my friends who became a field director literally grabbed me by the jacket and said shut up and sit down, we are going to win this thing. [laughter] he pulled me into the seat. that moment passed and i became the candidate. i get home at 3:00 in the morning and i tell my wife, it's 3:00 in the morning. it wasn't that kind of party, trust me. i'm a candidate for the berkeley city council. what about brandeis? i will figure it out later. several days later i went to my friends and i said you guys have got me into this and you have to get me out of this. i'm not interested in politics. please get me the hell out of this. man, it's too late. it's done. i am from missouri. what do you mean too late? get me out of this. i don't want to be a politician.
man, it's too late. anyway, but time passed and i won the election. so i became a member of the berkeley city council and didn't get to brandeis. 1970, the people in the community, the peace community, the left community etc. etc. came to me and said they want you to run for congress. they must have figured out i didn't know how to say no. anyway i said well, if i run i have to run on my own terms. fine. so i became a candidate for the berkeley city council. i mean for the united states congress. jeffcoat hale and was a representative. he had been in congress for 12 years. this is 1970 against the backdrop of the civil rights movement and the vietnam war. the district was 71% white, 29%
total nonwhite, african-american, latino america and asian american in that order. seven to eight orders on election day where white voters. it was very interesting when we called a press conference one in the press said, councilman dellums what makes you think as a black man you can win against a white person in a predominately white congressional district? it was 1970, right? so i thought for a moment and i said sir, your question assumes that there is a monolith known as the white community. it is a monolith that i reject. when i look out there i don't see the white community. acps activists and if they speak to peace they will vote. i see union people. we speak to the problems in the plight of workers. they will vote for us. i look out there and i see
students who speak to their concerns. i look out there and i see senior citizens. i look out there and i see citizens so i don't see the white community. i see people who have their own interests, who have their concerns and by speaking intelligently and strongly and passionately and powerfully to those issues, we will get the vote and my prediction is when the smoke clears and the dust settles that i will defeat jeff keohane led by a margin of 55%. i don't know where that came from. as it ended up it actually became that. so i win the primary to everyone's shock and amazement. we put together this incredible coalition and we won the primary. against everybody. we put this incredible coalition
together of people of color, senior citizens. one night the phone rings. ron, you won't believe this. you have been attacked by vice president agnew. those young people when i was elected richard nixon was president sparrow agnew was vice president. i said i've been campaigning 18 hours. i am dead tired. no, you have been attacked by the vice president. i said, really? the vice president knows me. i'm just a young black guy waited out here in california. no, in the lower arkansas you were attacked by the vice president. so i said well call a press conference at 10:00 tomorrow morning at the campaign office and i will be there. so about 10 minutes until 10 i'm standing on the street corner getting ready to cross the street and there are cameras and press from all over the world. from the soviet union, from
china, from other parts of asia, from europe and everywhere. i had never seen that much press. they were everywhere and i think they came not to see not who ron dellums was but what is ron dellums. who is this ron dellums that the vice president picked out. to my right out of of the corner of my eye i see this woman walking. she happened to be caucasian, an elderly woman walking very slowly and i heard her say, sir, are you ron dellums? i said yes maam, i am. she said, i have just walks 10 blocks to give you this and she pulled out a check for about $5. and she said if i had more i would give it to to you but anybody that agnew attacks, have got to support. she gave me the check and this
little woman standing on the corner and she is crying. she turned slowly to return to her home and i walked across the street. i walk into the campaign office, cameras everywhere. i am nervous. by campaign director said, here is the statement. what statement? we have been up all my reading the statement for you. 11 attack by the vice vice president. i said i'm not going to need any statement. i have nothing to hide. why should i stand behind a theme? i'm sorry you guys take up all night but i'm not going to read any statement. are you sure? yeah. well at least read what it says so you know what he said. so i am so nervous, my hands are trembling. i didn't want the press to know that i was frightened to death so i acted as if i was.
>> reading. i went like this. [laughter] i did not see a word. i said tell me what it says. it says, there is a young lack man from berkeley, california on his way to washington that i considered the most dangerous radical to be elected to congress since marcantonio of the 1920s. so i sit down with the cameras, the lights, action so the press is waiting for me to read very carefully descriptive comments. predictable. well i am really not a radical. i am really a liberal democrat. i said i have no opening statement. pregnant pause because that was not in the script. they didn't quite know what to do. i'm prepared to answer the
questions. finally somebody said, vice president agnew charges that you are a radical. how do you respond to that charge? well, if it's radical to oppose the insanity and the cruelty of the vietnam war, this medical to oppose the danger of nuclear weapons, if it's radical to oppose the cruelty and pain and that the -- oppression of racism, sexism, ageism and other forms of chauvinism, if it's radical to want to eradicate poverty, hunger and inadequate education and inadequate housing in this country, then serve i'm very proud to be called a radical. my campaign people applauded. the press said whoa not part of the script. [laughter] so then there was another pregnant pause and then someone said, vice president agnew charges that you have to keep bringing the walls down.
how do you respond to those charges? this is 1970, that you advocate bringing the walls down? how do you respond? well the vice president agnew had taken a timeout at this his very busy schedule as vice president. he would have learned that i said we have built walls very high in this country among the classes and the races in generations and even the religions and if we bring down those walls, what we will find is that there are millions of people all shapes, all colors, all nationalities from different backgrounds leading desperate lives in this country and if we organize them we can change america and change the world so yes sir, i do advocate bringing the walls down. the walls of racism, the walls of sexism, the walls of classism, the walls of ageism, the waltz of isms that stand in the way of people being able to recognize that we have more in
common. no more question. so i win the election. berkeley radical, elected to congress. i remember i walked into the door the first day of the democratic caucus into my right there was a group of my colleagues. they didn't know that i could hear them. and somebody said, that radical sob, have you seen him? i go oh my god. [laughter] if that is the way the democrats see me, how do the republicans see me? [laughter] carl albert was speaker of the house and he walked up to me and he said you were on the berkeley city council. do you know about cities? i am going to put you on the district of columbia committee and so the district of columbia
committee and foreign affairs committee. the interesting thing about the district of columbia committee, after the difficulties that charlie digs had then i became the chair of the district of columbia committee with the least amount of seniority than anybody in the history of the country but it was fascinating. when i became chair of the district of columbia committee nobody called me mr. chairman but when i became subcommittee chairman on the armed services, good meriting mr. chairman. good morning mr. chairman. it was very different, right? fast-forward. i have to tell you how i got on the armed services because this is important. it's important to the evolution of the expression of the black caucus. part of our concern was that we would spread out across all the committees so that our voice and our perspective and the perspective of our people and the perspective of the movement
would emerge in all of these different committees. but ron dellums, i am the first african-american elected to congress from a majority white district. some people said walsh of the brother be in the black caucus? he represents the majority white folks. he represents all these radicals, what about all this? it was interesting because he said -- not lou stokes interviewed me. [laughter] lou stokes became my friend because he actually was like some of my lawyers. we talked a long time and he apparently went back to the cbc members and said the guy is really a cool guy. is not some crazy wild-eyed crazy guy, you know. and intelligent person,, blah, blah, blah. that calmed everybody down so i
am now the radical guide but remember, berkeley oakland in the 60s i've maintained was perhaps different from any other place in the entire country. in some places as was the civil rights movement and in some places there was the peace movement but in berkeley oakland, every movement of the 60s emerged almost simultaneously and in close proximity, so we all had to hear each other's pain and sense each other's rage, understand each other's analysis, embrace each other's politics so the black panthers and the brown berets and the peace movement, the amram until movement, the feminist movement, all of these movements emerge simultaneously so this young tall skinny black guy came to washington to represent all of that. so in my second term i said, to be true to all of this, the
voice of peace in the arms control and changing our priorities needs to go on the armed services committee so i go to my cdc colleagues and i say i want you to back my pledge to go in the armed services committee. yeah, right. they are going to send a radical dude from berkeley on to the armed services committee. no one thought we could ever do it that they sent the letter. the day comes when they are choosing people. i get this phonecall, ron you have been denied membership on the armed services committee. so i went to phil burton who was the leader in the house at the time from san francisco. phil burton, a brilliant guy. i said phil i am still an outsider. i don't know how to fight inside. i just have been denied membership on the house armed services committee. how do i fight that?
he thought for a moment and he said, who is the chair of the congressional black caucus? i said lou stokes. he said he's a wonderful guy, nice gentleman. he said go find lou stokes but also find bill clay. a progressive. take both of them with you to the meeting to fight to put you on armed services. i found them at lunch and i said i have been denied membership on the house armed services committee. i need you to pick up the ball and get in touch with members of, get in touch with carl alberts and let them know that this is not going to go. how do you deny me membership when i have sought membership? on what grounds? so lou stokes called and said come right over. i walked in the room and carl alberts immediately said, we got
all of the good -- guys could committee that we could not do anything for ron dellums. what do you mean? the chairman of the armed services committee got in touch with the members on the committee on committee that said, we don't want this guy on the armed services committee. so then i gave lou stokes a nudge and lou stokes rose. but mr. speaker this is a matter of principle. i gave bill clay of little kick and go clay said and if you don't put the brother in the armed services committee we are going to call a press conference and announce this is a racist institution. so wonderful for play here back and forth. lou stokes, a matter of principle. bill clay, militant. they have certain points in the speaker looked around and he said well i will tie you what, we are going to go back and ask them to reconsider. at that point i knew.
i thanked him and i said don't worry about it. an hour later i get the call, you have been appointed to the house armed services committee. and later on when i became the chair, it was quite fascinating because the day that they voted me to become the chair and a number of microsteeled colleagues came up to me literally with tears in her eyes and they said, ron, we all agree very much but i voted for you to sit as the chair of the armed services committee because i'd respect your integrity and i respect your work ethic and that is how i became chair of the house armed services committee. there is one other quick story i want to tell and then let's talk. the other night, and this is two nights ago, my wife had left the television on and i awakened
hearing my voice. sure enough there was on the floor of congress, speaking, challenging apartheid in south africa. so i listened to the whole story. nobody has ever gotten that great and i want to tell you the real story without going into way back in history. the foreign affairs committee finally reports out and i introduced a disinvestment bill back in 1971 or 72. the polaroid workers had come in from doing things because remember polaroid with a camera that you use to take those photos of south africans that they had to carry around so the polaroid that polaroid workers came down here to meet with the congressional black caucus and they came down the day of the caucus meeting.
they were very militant folks from the black caucus looking around and saying hey ron you go meet with them. yeah okay because i was a radical guy, right? so john conyers said, i will go with you. so he goes with me and we meet with the polaroid workers. and at the end of that meeting i said, we will work with you to introduce legislation to bring -- to south africa and that that was the first bill to bring sanctions in 1970, 71, 72 and there were only two sponsors, ron dellums and ron conyers. fast-forward to the 80's. he died on the foreign affairs committee are bringing out, reported out a pill. i believe that there are two factors over which everyone of us have absolute control. there are two factors of which i
think we do have control. your fidelity, your faithfulness to what you believe in and your willingness to show up every day for the fight. you have control over that. so with that in mind, i, keeping fidelity with the movement in based on the idea that part of our responsibility as members of the cbc and the progressive voice was to take the struggle, the pain, the anguish and the screams from the streets and put them in legislative form. what the people in the movement were saying was, disinvestment. take the economic strength, was shot economically from south africa. everybody thought that was a very radical idea but the second principle that i believed in was that the center of american politics is not a static place. people think there is such a thing as the center. no, no.
the sender is defined by who shows up. so if you show up over here then the center may be here and if you don't show up it may be elsewhere. do you see what i'm saying? so the foreign affairs committee when they got ready to bring out the sanctions bill, that was going to be the liberal left alternative and i remember sometimes my colleagues used to say wrong, are you going to do one of those radical berkeley amendments? i said, what he said that? that is what allowed me to vote against her amendment so i could vote for this amendment and when i go home to my district i can say to people, now you think what i voted for was liberal you should have seen what that dellums guy brought in. so i learned that i had a role to play. stay faithful. show up.
redefined the debate. so i introduced the disinvestment bill. i go to the rules committee and the rules committee give me one hour of debate evenly divided, half four and half against. that dellums amendment is the nature of the substitute so here now is the bill here on the left. so the time comes on the floor and we figured we would have a a one-hour debate and vote on it. we got 150 boats and we took it as a moral victory and we would get on with 11 hours of debate on the committee bill and hopefully they passed the committee bill and the would be out of there. so it comes to the end of the debate. all time has expired on the amendment offered by the gentleman from california, mr. dellums. all in favor signify by saying aye. i stood as tall as i could, six feet four inches. so they said don't worry ron, we
will give you at least a momentary victory. aye. all oppose. there were two or three republicans. an opinion of the chair the ayes have it. no problem, because the chair knew somebody was going to get up and say, we observed a quorum is not present and past with the yeas and nays. that was going to be the deal. my colleague from michigan, the republican colleague from michigan, mr. so gender was in control at the time on the opposition. he was supposed to get up off my colleague on the democratic side who had voted for me on a voice vote so nobody was going to ask for a voice vote on my site but they knew the republicans were going to do it.
but the drama starts unfolding. the chairman goes like, the ayes have it. wake up, somebody. this is not the script. they are looking around. he did not move. the ayes have it. the ayes have it. the amendment carries. and nh are of a substitute but now we have to go to final passage. i almost fainted. [laughter] the most incredible moment. mark so gender walked into the well of the house and he said wrong, i made you a hero for a moment. i said what do you mean? he said i respect you.
you didn't take the well of the house and tell them you guaranteed this would bring an end to apartheid but you said that was the option that you felt had the greatest chance of bringing significant change. so i respect you for that he said but it's never going to go anywhere. it's going to die. so my party controls the senate and the bill is going to die and it will never see the light of day. he started to walk away and i said mark, hold on. tomorrow morning every newspaper in america front page, house passes the bill to challenge apartheid in south africa. every television station is going to lead with this story. there is a movement out there on the ground in the colleges and universities and labor halls and
churches and other places the movement is strengthened by victory. people will be louis by this and be strengthened by this. while you think that this will be, it will and in the senate, i maintain that the senate will go beyond where they even thought they would go based on this bill passing in based on the strength that will occur from the statement that will be made in the streets on the part of the movement. i said so my good friend, i may have the last laugh. he looked at me and kind of went -- code that is what happened. the senate passes a senate version of the bill. now for the first time we can go to conference on the radical idea. this is going to be awesome. but then a group of people put
together a meeting to meet with me, and it was senator kennedy and senator lugar, who was chair of the senate foreign affairs committee, randall robinson, a lot of people from the movement. the bottom line was, reagan is going to veto this bill. he said i don't want to be ham-fisted vet all of us will carry one story, run. if you demand to go to congress -- go to conference on the dellums bill and we negotiate anything that is different from the senate bill, we cannot guarantee an override of ronald reagan's the president's veto. we can guarantee that this bill
will be overwritten. so i understood that they were asking me to back off. and at a certain point, my heart was crying but i stood up and they said, i understand what is being asked of me here. and i respect everyone in this room, and i understand what it is that you are saying and while i would desperately like to go to conference and fight for the strongest measure to challenge the cruelty of apartheid in south africa, i understand the practical realities of what you are saying, that it would never outlive the president's veto and that would send the wrong message. i therefore, out of respect for you in this room and out of the desired to advance the cause of our sisters and brothers in south africa, i will step back and allow the senate version of the bill to become the house version of the bill.
reagan vetoed it. they overrode the bill. fast-forward, i am chair of the armed services committee, a german journalist came to visit us and he said he had done a tremendous amount of research in based on his research, they had learned that the clerk of south africa had gotten in touch with margaret thatcher, who was then the prime minister of england and said, what do you think i should do, because i have reintroduced the bill even after the 1986 sanctions bill that was the republican senate version. again, stay faithful and show up to the fight. i have reintroduced the dellums bill and eventually they sent the bill to a committees and it all came back even stronger so two years later the dellums bill became the committee bill.
we actually passed it on a record vote. by that time, the democrats were in control of the senate and the senate said we will take up the bill. the senate was going to pass it. as a backdrop he said he asked margaret thatcher and her response was look, the disinvestment bill offered by dellums is soon to become law. once it becomes like you will have no negotiating broom. you will be powerless. so he said what do you think i should do? the journalist said in they quote, free mandela and begin to negotiate with the south africa while you still have the ability to negotiate. he said tell dellums said while his bill never became law, it hung over south africa like the sword of -- [applause]
a couple of quick things and then i will conclude. going back to the night that the house passed the amendment on a voice vote, for the first time, i remember i was so overwhelmed. it was late that night and i went home and i put on my running shoes and iran and iran and iran and iran's until i could not run any further. so i just sat down on the street corner somewhere and i just cried. i cried for our people. i cried out in joy for the moment. i played only one very minor almost insignificant world and there were millions of people who came together to see south africa freed. but i was heartened i fit day that i finally met mandela and i will close with this.
mandela when he was freed from south africa went to sacco zambia where he met to -- went to meet the dmc. is placed on the delegation, and our job was to go to see if this was now time to lift the sanction. and i remember, i'm i am going to meet nelson mandela. i spent so many years saying, free mandela, free my brothers and sisters in south africa. suddenly that morning i am standing in the line and here i am an bill gray said sir i would like you to meet congressman ron dellums from california. this is my impression of mandela.
we have heard much of you. you gave us hope. you kept us alive. if i were to live to be 1000 i will never forget the incredible joy that i felt in that moment. there are a lot of jokes about politics and politicians but i want you to know this. i deemed it a high honor and privilege to serve the people of california, to serve the people of this country and the people of the world. it was an incredible thing. thank you. [applause] [applause] i am sorry, i lost track of time.
[inaudible] and. >> i guess the part i would be most interested about, obviously your entire story is amazing but as a young man you said you were initially disinterested and at what moment did you know? was at once you were elected and where they're still doubts after you were involved or at what moment -- it seemed like you run a mission. when did that come to you? did that come from your childhood or what was the driving force behind that? >> you know, as i said i was, in the book that i wrote i said i'm trained as a social worker and i've always felt weather was one
to one-to-oneone to one, one to group, went to community i have never ceased and i've always wanted to be involved in helping change the quality of the life of our people. i was inspired by mark select any other people. i thought he was an amazing and brilliant guy. i remember one night and this will in part answer your question. every city has its own. ours was -- and they said martin luther king is going to give a speech in a couple of minutes. whenever a new martin luther king was going to speak, as a young guy in the 60s i would literally go and get a pad and a pencil. i thought he was so brilliant. in this one speech martin luther king said and i quote, the most revolutionary act that are people can engage and is to assert the full measure of their citizenship. i wrote that down, the most
revolutionary thing that we can do is to assert the full measure of our citizenship. i went to the dictionary because i wanted to understand what that meant. revolutionary simply means significant change. to assert needs to step forward boldly. citizenship frames your rights in your and your prerogatives and your duty. i put all that together. what martin luther king was really saying is if you seek significant change than step forward boldly and assert your rights and prerogatives and assumes the duties as citizens. i am somebody i am somebody is a powerful statement but it's a psychological statement. i am a citizen is an awesome political statement. so martin luther king said to me earlier in the 60s, you are a citizen. and if you really want to be radical don't let anybody else to find that except you.
a quick aside, i am mayor of oakland and all hell is breaking loose. remember when the young man was killed and a lot of people were meeting in city hall and i happen to be passing by. one young brother said to me, he said you know look here brother maher, i am going to be on 14th and broadway this evening protesting and i want to know if you are going to be there to validate our right to be on 14th and broadway. he wanted to hear what i have to say. i said no, i said we fought that fight 50 years ago. the only person that can validate your right to be on the corner of 14th and broadway is you. you are a citizen and as a
citizen you are cloaked in the constitutional right and prerogative. your freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. if you are still asking somebody to validate your rights, then we wasted 50 years of our lives. you go down on 14 to broadway and express your citizenship. my responsibility is maher is to make sure you can do that. okay, now, the point being that people like me, we were motivated by a martin luther king. i had no idea that i would express that as an elected official because we never thought about it that way. but then when people said no, we need your voice, it opened up a whole nother fan you because i said, i understand. we can take the struggle to the floor of congress. the first night that i came here, i sat up on the steps on
capitol hill. and i looked out and i'm thinking, far away from the hood. i am a member of the united states congress. i have been watching the sun tea -- tv where our struggles have fallen on deaf ears. why did they send me here? i was a pretty good activist in the bay area and didn't have to leave my family or my friends. why did they send me 2500 miles? was it to change the venue of my activism? i carried a sign in oakland. was it to put down the sign and walk inside the building and take my rightful place and assume the burdens and the risks and responsibilities to try to govern? i said, i'm going to opt for the latter. i think that is why they sent me here. i said to my colleagues if there were 217 other people from berkeley here in the congress it
would be my way or the highway, but the reality is that they are not so i'm going to have to deal with you from mississippi, tennessee, from illinois or new york or wherever. so, okay. so the point is that it just happened that i ended up doing electoral politics and my sense of it is, so those of us who came here in the late 60s and 70s, we came here because we saw ourselves as an extensive movement. we saw ourselves as taking from the streets to the halls of congress and to put that perspective out there. so that is how we saw ourselves and that is how i tried to continue to operate but along the way i also realized very early on that i had a job to govern, that i had to try to figure out what ultimately what was the best for the mac and people.
can i say one other little quick thing on the aside? this is my political perspective. if you look at what is going on now i think too many people never sat on the steps and have that conversation. they are still carrying the signs and they never decided to take the responsibility to walk inside the building and assume the burden and the risk and responsibility to try to govern to work with sister wilson and me and others to try to change. they are still protesting in the country has been doing this. any other questions? yes, sir. >> you mentioned in your speech about a member of service and indeed it is an arm pulled profession. i just want to see what you
would propose to keep members of congress from being portrayed as a caricature and if you could just a few brief words about your colleagues and brothers. >> okay. let me do the latter first. first. for those of you who don't know, mr. leland was a good friend of mine from texas. he took bobby jordan's place and nobody takes bobby jordan's place. when bobby jordan left he sat in the seat and a big part of my roots are from texas so when vicki and i met up there was a affinity we had for each other and his family sort of adopted me. we really became like what brothers very fast. one day mckee had been going in and out of africa delivering food and mickey make it was an incredible guy. i love him because he had no sacred cows. he would step on any sacred cow anywhere. for example we went into the
house dining room one day and there were a number of conservative colleague sitting at one of the tables in the dining room. come with me. we walked up to the table and he said how far you will all in the caucasus morning? how would you like to sit down and have breakfast with me? [laughter] but making it a way of cutting through. do you know what i'm saying? they would laugh and they would cry. we sat down and had reckless. i loved it. anyway mckee was on his way to ethiopia and dice it make you don't want you to ever go to africa again along. next time you go i'm going with you. i am going to ethiopia to deliver some food to the children in ethiopia. i said i've got to go to a funeral on monday. let's go on to say. just wait for me, mickey. i will fly all night and i will meet you.
i won't even go home. i will meet you out there. he said no man, i have got to go. a young woman on my staff on the district of columbia committee staff came up to me and she said gallons i know you want to go with mickey. i'm getting ready to celebrate a her birthday and i was going to go but i can't think of a better place to go than to go to ethiopia and help congressman legal and and help the children of ethiopia. can i go and take your place? she went and took my place and they both died in a plane crash in ethiopia. i lost a friend beyond my ability to describe. mickey was incredible, wonderful, spontaneous, just an extraordinary human being. and i loved him.
the first part of your question was? [inaudible] >> you no, one of the things that bothers me is a step back and i look, and i think there is no one's fault, but i think we as a society have a become so jaded, so cynical, that everything is viewed through a cynical lens. so it's just a very difficult for people to see other people and be genuine. we attribute motives. i always say the one beautiful thing that i have learned in the congress was one of the rules that said on the floor of congress you cannot challenge
the assumption of another person. or your words get taken down. that is a beautiful thing because if you take that outside you are not involved in challenging motives. if you challenge a member's motives you take that person down so take that off the floor of congress. if you challenge people's motives and you are forced to deal with the credibility and the integrity of the substance or the black thereof of a persons motive. don't go to the motive, go to the the argument. we have become so cynical that we are challenging people's motives and in very few instances do we engage in intelligent argument. you are running for office. you are trying to be political. rather than gage at the level of
ideas, and one thing about democracy, at some point you have got to engage at the level of serious conversation. you have got to be able to talk with each other. we have become so cynical and we don't talk. we don't communicate. we are very very cynical. when i can just write an e-mail i will have to look you in the eye. the way you you were looking at me -- i am compelled to respect your humanity, your attentiveness and my ability to communicate with you. i can say whatever i want to say because i'm not tempered by my ability to see you as a total human being and i think that has something to do with it. thirdly, we have become very impatient. when i first got elected mayor this guy walked up to me and he said hey, what have you done for me lately?
i have only been in office for eight weeks. give me a break. the last guy was here eight years. did you confront him that way? he went, no so we are very much in a hurry. you have been president for six months? you haven't changed the world? the congressional black caucus, 40 some of you and you have not change the world? all this comes together so we have been impatient and we have become very cynical. we have become extremely disrespectful of each other and finally as i said, thank many of us have become, we have simply changed the venue of our activism. and like the speech that resonated at home, i have always maintained once you come here, if you expose all this information, sometimes a speech
that got great applause back home is not a speech that gets applause here because there are people who listen differently and understand differently. i love to wait for some of my colleagues to get up and give their homespun speech. i remember this one guy got up and gave us incredible -- and i'm thinking to myself, i know he got such applause when he gave that speech at home but i said would the gentleman yield? and apparently somebody had told him look under no circumstances do you -- because he is going to stay up all night doing his homework. he looked at his colleagues and his colleagues looked at him like, we cannot help you, man. [laughter] and i said with would the gentleman yield?
added a certain point he just walked off the floor of congress. [laughter] so you know, sometimes. last point, i believe very strongly that the greatest respect that you can pay to your adversaries and to give them your undivided attention. we are not listening to each other. i think it's out of that respect and willingness to listen to each other and hear each other. sometimes my colleagues will say you have to listen. if you want them to hear you you have got to be able to hear them. we are not hearing each other anymore. we are not listening to each other anymore so you add all of that up. we become late-night talkshow host jokes and we become
characters -- caricatures. i maintain those elective office whenever the opportunity presents itself to allow people to understand your sense of dignity, and up are do you have not only in what you do and the responsibilities that you have, you have to keep doing that. you cannot allow the media and the internet and others to intimidate you for standing up for who you are. at the end of the date day there were two factors you have control of. faithfulness and what you believe in you and your willingness to show up for the fight. thank you very much. [applause] [applause] [inaudible]
>> we also want to recognize another esteemed member of congress to come in, the congress went from the great state of texas. are there any comments you would like to make? [applause] >> let me take a my colleague the honorable frederica wilson for having the genius to make sure we did not leave this week without having a commemoration to our members of congress. it is particularly special for me because ron dellums i believe, at least new and shared in the lives of the honorable barbara jordan, at least as she lived out her tenure at and her tenure in the united states congress, and to my brother, the honorable mckee leland. when i'm in schools biosafety died on the side of an ethiopian
mountain refusing to give up on those who could not help themselves. and then, a predecessor and brother, the honorable craig washington. it's an appropriate -- and appropriate honoring of our dear and special members of congress. ron dellums captured the concept of listening and oh how much i wish we could bottle that now and this time, in this century. i would listen to the stories of mickey. i was led by the support of the honorable jordan but nikki told most of the humorous stories but also friendship stories that generated an opportunity for leadership bats the congressional black caucus was so unique. small in size, but willing if you will to traverse rolls that had not been traverse. let me just leave you with two or three action items of the congressional black caucus that often are not noted.
we are for legislation. we are seeing here on the hill but i think it is important in quiet times to recognize that there had to be some toughness going on. members of the congressional black caucus organized and marched were the first voices to ask for the change in government, albeit there have been long-standing interactions with their african brothers and sisters in libya. .. congressional black caucus members from the very moment of the people in haiti held onto the hand of the haitian people and i am reminded of